Small G proteins in the cardiovascular system: physiological and pathological aspects

Physiol Rev. 2013 Oct;93(4):1659-720. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00021.2012.


Small G proteins exist in eukaryotes from yeast to human and constitute the Ras superfamily comprising more than 100 members. This superfamily is structurally classified into five families: the Ras, Rho, Rab, Arf, and Ran families that control a wide variety of cell and biological functions through highly coordinated regulation processes. Increasing evidence has accumulated to identify small G proteins and their regulators as key players of the cardiovascular physiology that control a large panel of cardiac (heart rhythm, contraction, hypertrophy) and vascular functions (angiogenesis, vascular permeability, vasoconstriction). Indeed, basal Ras protein activity is required for homeostatic functions in physiological conditions, but sustained overactivation of Ras proteins or spatiotemporal dysregulation of Ras signaling pathways has pathological consequences in the cardiovascular system. The primary object of this review is to provide a comprehensive overview of the current progress in our understanding of the role of small G proteins and their regulators in cardiovascular physiology and pathologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • ras Proteins / physiology


  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins
  • ras Proteins